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Voters soundly reject Kampa Lane annexation

Only 18.5 percent of voters participate in March 13 election
by: contributed graphic, The green area on this map of the Sandy Bluff neighborhood was the proposed annexation area.

Voters overwhelmingly struck down the controversial 22.79-acre Kampa Lane annexation in the March 13 special election.

The Clackamas County Elections Division reported that 773 citizens voted against the proposed annexation - more than 65 percent - and 415 people voted in favor of it. Voter turnout was about 18.5 percent of Sandy residents registered.

'If you're the only thing on the ballot, you need to be a little more proactive and make sure people vote,' said Mayor Linda Malone. 'In this case, the people who worked the hardest, the people who were the most convincing were the people who were working against it.'

'I'm disappointed,' said Joe Spaziani, the lead developer for Kampa Lane LLC, the development company that owns the land. He attributed the defeat to the efforts of Sandy's 'no-growth-ers.'

Kampa Lane LLC, which constructed much of the existing 96-acre Sandy Bluff neighborhood, planned to build 136 homes to the northwest Sandy area, bringing the total number of homes there to just fewer than 500.

Opponents of the annexation waged a successful information campaign - with letters to the editor, yard signs and fliers - stating that Kampa Lane's lead developer, Spaziani, has a track record of fighting the city's land-use rules and would try to cram as many houses as possible onto the annexed land, bucking the city's minimum lot size requirements.

'These (small houses) are not family friendly,' said Kathleen Walker, a Bluff Road resident and one of the most vocal opponents of the annexation. '(The neighborhood) started out pretty good, but by the end of the last phase, they had some pretty tacky houses on pretty small lots.'

Proponents of the annexation claimed it would have improved the quality of life for Bluff residents by adding much-needed collector streets, open space and family-friendly, affordable houses. Spaziani contested the city's minimum lot size restrictions, claiming that they were established illegally.

He said the city's development code - which allows two to six dwellings per acre in the single-family residential zone and five to 10 in the R-1 zone - permits him to build on lots smaller than the 5,500-square-foot minimum for R-1 and 7,500 square feet for single-family residential.

Spaziani has fought the city on many of its conditions and regulations in court, even taking the minimum lot size restrictions to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. LUBA remanded the restrictions, forcing the city of Sandy to present some additional findings to justify the rules. The City Council is scheduled to adopt the new findings at its March 19 meeting.

Walker and other likeminded opponents of the annexation urged voters to keep Kampa Lane out of the city until Sandy could clean up its development code to the point that it would be 'bomb proof' against developers and would prevent any additional small-lot subdivisions from being built.

Spaziani said Kampa Lane probably will try to win another annexation vote in the future, but he's not sure when. 'Maybe in a year or two,' he said. 'But the bottom line is that if they don't want growth, they're not going to have growth. It's that simple.'

In the meantime, his company plans to appeal the city's decisions on other developments in the Bluff neighborhood to LUBA.

Walker said she was 'thrilled' with the results of the election, but declared, 'I don't think it's over. I'm concerned and a little leery. I'm a little unsure what they'll do next, but I'm sure they'll do something else.'

She added, 'I hope people will become more engaged in the planning process because it really does have a big impact on the quality of life here in Sandy.'

In other news, a victim of the Kampa Lane annexation's defeat was another, non-controversial 10.61-acre annexation, which went down 63 to 37 percent.

'I feel bad for that one,' Malone said. 'It was a combination of the fact that it was a single-issue ballot and the heated battle between both sides of the other annexation. Hopefully he'll try again.'